Physiological minimum temperatures for root growth in seven common European broad-leaved tree species

Schenker, Gabriela and Lenz, Armando and Körner, Chrisian and Hoch, Günter. (2014) Physiological minimum temperatures for root growth in seven common European broad-leaved tree species. Tree physiology, Vol. 34. pp. 302-313.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A6254517

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Temperature is the most important factor driving the cold edge distribution limit of temperate trees. Here, we identified the minimum temperatures for root growth in seven broad-leaved tree species, compared them with the species’ natural elevational limits and identified morphological changes in roots produced near their physiological cold limit. Seedlings were exposed to a vertical soil-temperature gradient from 20 to 2 °C along the rooting zone for 18 weeks. In all species, the bulk of roots was produced at temperatures above 5 °C. However, the absolute minimum temperatures for root growth differed among species between 2.3 and 4.2 °C, with those species that reach their natural distribution limits at higher elevations also tending to have lower thermal limits for root tissue formation. In all investigated species, the roots produced at temperatures close to the thermal limit were pale, thick, unbranched and of reduced mechanical strength. Across species, the specific root length (m g−1 root) was reduced by, on average, 60% at temperatures below 7 °C. A significant correlation of minimum temperatures for root growth with the natural high elevation limits of the investigated species indicates species-specific ther- mal requirements for basic physiological processes. Although these limits are not necessarily directly causative for the upper distribution limit of a species, they seem to belong to a syndrome of adaptive processes for life at low temperatures. The anatomical changes at the cold limit likely hint at the mechanisms impeding meristematic activity at low temperatures.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Pflanzenökologie (Körner)
UniBasel Contributors:Hoch, Günter and Körner, Christian and Lenz, Armando
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Heron Publishing
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:12 Sep 2014 08:02
Deposited On:23 May 2014 08:34

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